Five Reasons For Christian Confidence

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The word con-man is short for confidence man. Back in the day, a confidence man was someone who tricked people out of their possessions. Today he’s called a con-man. Or a televangelist. Or a presidential candidate.

Stop listening to the preachers on TV who keep begging you for money and promising you outrageous blessings. These guys cannot deliver on their promises. You have no reason to have confidence in these confidence men. But, if you are a Christian, you have many reasons to be confident. Here are five.

You can be confident in the faithfulness of God.

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Psalm 4:1 (ESV)

You can be confident that God actively listens to you when you talk to him.

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:2-3 (ESV)

You can be confident that God is in control of all things.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD. Psalm 4:4-5 (ESV)

You can be confident that the joy of the Lord is infinitely greater than the phony joys of this world.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:6-7 (ESV)

You can be confident that the God who created and sustains you is supreme over all other gods.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 (ESV)

Pride is a sin and it puts you on a quick path to destruction. The prideful man acts as if he is his own god. But Christian confidence is different. It is not centered on self but rather on the faithfulness and power of God. Christians, above all other people, have a reason to be confident. That’s because they have a Savior who loves them and is in control of all things.

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Questions To Consider Before Your Kid’s Next Game

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If you have a kid who plays sports, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before your cheer for him from the sidelines.

Are you encouraging him to do his best or are you pushing him to be better for you?

Are you, in any way, making her feel as though your love for her is based on her performance? That’s not so much a question just for you. We all know how you’ll answer that question. It’s probably best for you to ask your child that question. Her answer might be a little different than yours.

What lesson are you hoping to teach your son by terrorizing the referee of his game and ridiculing his team’s coach? Perhaps you have forgotten that sports exist for the primary purpose of teaching kids lessons. Not for scholarships. Not for your unmet expectations from your own childhood. Lessons. And, make not mistake, you are teaching lessons. Your silence teaches a lesson. Your private coaching teaches a lesson. Your obnoxious yelling teaches a lesson.

I was at several youth soccer games over the weekend and I was shocked by what I heard coming from the mouths of some parents. I shouldn’t have been. I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade now with my own kids. Long before becoming a father, I lived in an apartment complex that was right next to a youth baseball field. My Saturday morning alarm clock was some dad cursing at his son. But still, this weekend, I was surprised.

An overwhelming majority of the parents I encountered and observed were fantastic. They cheered with class. They encouraged their sons and daughters with passion. They took losses with dignity. I’m thankful for these parents. We need more like them. And, believe it or not, their kids actually need to hear them cheering them on and encouraging them to give their best effort.

But what they don’t need is to hear their parents screaming like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. They don’t need to hear their parents ridiculing other players on the field who have not been blessed with supreme, godlike athleticism. They don’t need to hear every coaching decision questioned at full volume. And they don’t need to hear the coach ripped to shreds for not giving your supreme, godlike athlete enough playing time while you break the game down on the way home.

Side note. If your kid is good, he’ll play. I’ve been around a lot of coaches and I’ve seen some crazy philosophies and eccentric personalities. But I’ve never come across a coach who said, “You know, that Billy is a fantastic player with the uncanny ability to help our team win but I’m not going to play him because I hate winning and I hate little Billy.” If your kid really has professional athlete potential, he’ll play. Settle down. If, like the rest of us, he never makes it to the pros, it won’t be because his little league coach put him at short stop instead of third base.

Winning is fun. Winning is important. Kids should be encouraged to win. Not keeping score and giving everyone a trophy is foolish. But winning is not the most important thing. You can win an awful lot of trophies vicariously through your kid and still lose your kid.

Which leads me to one final question that you should ask yourself before cheering for your kid. I’m borrowing from Jesus on this one.

What will it profit a parent if he gains a professional athlete but loses his child?

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A Word From Jesus That You’ve Probably Never Noticed But Really Need To Hear

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It’s far from the most popular phrase that Jesus ever spoke. It never shows up in any of the movies. We don’t repeat it today. In fact, even if you’ve spent your whole life in a really good church, there’s a chance that you’ve missed this phrase.

Jesus was getting away. His confrontations with the religious elites had been intense and, no doubt, draining. On top of that, someone had just told him about the death of John the Baptist. So Jesus got in a boat to get away from the noise. But something was waiting for him on the other side of his getaway. Another crowd.

Imagine how you would feel if you went on vacation and when you showed up to your condo on the first day all of the people at work were waiting on you. Jesus didn’t feel that way. Rather than turning back around or telling the people to go away or calling down fire from heaven, the Bible says that Jesus “had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).

At some point, Jesus’ disciples decided that there had been enough compassion for one day.

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Matthew 14:15 (ESV)

The disciples were clear. They were ready for the people to move along and start taking care of themselves. Jesus wasn’t.

But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16 (ESV)

Jesus was asking his disciples to do the impossible. Buying food for this many people would cost well over half of a laborer’s yearly salary. And no one happened to have that kind of food packed away in a bag. The best the disciples could come up with was a few fish and some bread. That’s when Jesus spoke the phrase that all of us need to hear but few of us have ever noticed.

And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Matthew 14:18 (ESV)

Not, “That’s it?!”

Not, “Oh, you of little faith.”

Just that one simple command. Bring them here to me.

Jesus knew what he was doing. He wasn’t chewing his finger nails and giving himself a stomach ulcer along with the disciples as they tried to figure out what to do with the crowd. Instead, he was intentionally putting them in a situation where all of their resources had run out. There was nothing that they could do. They couldn’t send the crowd home. They couldn’t afford to buy food for everyone there. And they couldn’t just make food appear out of nowhere.

But Jesus could. And he did. Over ten thousand people were fed that day. And the plotting, planning and administrating of the disciples had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was all the result of the God who remained God when the disciples had come to the end of their rope.

Sometimes the best place we can be is in the place where all of our talent, resources and knowledge has run out. It’s in that place where we really begin to understand the lordship of Jesus Christ over all things.

He is Lord over the hurts the people brought to him that day.

He is Lord over the worries that you have today.

He is Lord over the seemingly impossible.

And he looks at the handfuls of nothing you have to offer him and says, “Bring them here to me.” Instead of allowing your worries to consume you, bring them to Jesus.

Parenting is difficult and overwhelming. Bring your inadequacies and failures to Jesus and trust him with the results.

The temptation you face is much more than you can handle on your own. Bring your compromises and sins to Jesus.

Fears about what will happen tomorrow have a way of keeping you up at night. Bring those fears to Jesus, trusting that the same God who has been Lord for all eternity will still be Lord over your tomorrow.

You might find yourself in a tight spot today. And the miracle required to get you out of it may never come in this life. But remember, Christian, that Jesus is with you. And he has one simple command for what you should do with your insufficient funds.

“Bring them here to me.”

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Southern Accents And Jesus

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I’ve lived in the south my whole life. Well, except for the few months that I lived in Louisville, Kentucky where they give you a funny look if you order sweet tea at a restaurant. While the south is far from perfect, there’s a lot I like about it. One of the things I like most about the south is the way we talk. We have a funny accent and we know it. And we don’t care. On top of that, we even go so far as to make up our own words or give our own meaning to established words. Take, for example, wack-em.

Wack-em means something completely different in Brooklyn, New York than it does in Macon, Georgia. If you hear the wack-em phrase in Brooklyn, someone is about to be murdered by a man named Fat Tony and thrown in the trunk of a Lincoln Continental. But if you hear wack-em in the south, it’s because someone has been nice to you.

You: “Thank you for refilling my glass of sweet tea.”

Southerner: “You wack-em.”

The lady waiting your table isn’t telling you to go kill someone. She’s saying, “You’re welcome.” The moral of the story is that if you’re ever at the Cracker Barrel in Macon, Georgia and you have a waiter from Brooklyn named Fat Tony, be careful. Things could get confusing.

There’s another moral too.

Your accent reveals where you’re from. In the same way, the words you use and how you use them often reveal who you worship. Your words are far more powerful and revealing than you think they are.

James puts it like this when describing the tongue.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:9-12 (ESV)

Christian, if you are constantly tearing others down with your words, if you feel the need to always have the last word in a debate or disagreement or if you use verbal nuclear weapons when a scalpel will do, you are not at all acting like the One you claim to worship.

Proverbs is sort of like the James of the Old Testament. Take a look at the words used in that book to describe the kind of speech that is pleasing to God. You’ll find words and phrases like gentle, wise, knowledge and tree of life. If you move forward to the New Testament, you’ll see those same words used to describe Jesus, the One who is supposed to be the object of our worship.

He is gentle to the broken (Matthew 11:29).

His wisdom is undeniable (Matthew 13:54).

His knowledge is infinite (Colossians 1:16-17).

He is the one who removes the barrier between his people and the tree of life (Genesis 3:22; Revelation 2:7).

When we carry the name of Christ but speak like the world speaks, we misrepresent where we are from. That goes deeper than simply not using certain four letter words. You can live 80 years without ever saying a “bad word” and still leave behind you the wreckage of broken hearts and crushed souls that will never be the same because of your speech.

As Christians, we must speak with the accent of heaven. Yes, there will be times when we have to disagree with others. There will be times when we have to speak with courage, boldness and firmness, just like Jesus did. But even in those times, we must love, just like Jesus did.

Your accent lets the world know where you come from. Your speech goes a long way in telling the world where you are going.

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Picking The Lesser Of Two Evils Is Wrong And The Church Must Stop Doing It

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Ashley Qualls was murdered in the middle of the night on July 9, 2013. She was walking home from work when a few men on bicycles confronted her. There was an argument. Shots rang out. The men rode away into the night, leaving Ashley’s lifeless body on the street.

The case still has not been solved.

There are many reasons why. Here are two. Cowardice and compromise. Many of the people in that large city who have insight into he murder are simply too scared to say anything about it. They’re afraid that the criminals will come for them next. Others are compromised. They don’t want to talk to the police because they had some involvement, if not with the murder itself at least with the men who committed it. Their own closeted skeletons prevent them from saying anything.

When good people were needed to make a stand against evil, cowardice and compromise kept them from doing the right thing.

Many of today’s Christians have a lot in common with the folks in that city. In the face of evil, they do nothing. They are too scared. Too scared of being labeled a bigot. Too scared of being outnumbered. Others have been compromised. While Jesus told his disciples to pray, “Deliver us from evil,” these Christians are too busy embracing evil or voting for the lesser of two evils to actually make a stand against evil. It’s hard to stand against something that you’ve already embraced.

The world has gone nuts. Our president is acting like a king. Partly due to his actions, little girls are scared to go into public restrooms because of the men who are now encouraged to go in with them. And their parents are scared to do anything to stop them for fear of being labeled discriminatory or a hater.

In the church’s silence, others have risen up to speak. They rant on social media IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY HATE LIBERALS AND HOW THEY’D LIKE TO KILL ANY PERV THAT COMES INTO THE BATHROOM WHILE THEIR DAUGHTER IS IN THERE. They run for president and wear red hats that tell us to make America great again, all the while embracing the very evil their supporters hope they’ll abolish. Both are only making the problems worse.

The last thing we need is more angry political talk. And if you think that either evil presidential candidate is going to offer any legitimate solutions, you are terribly mistaken. One thing history has taught us is that you should never expect godly consequences from godless leaders.

What we could really use is a few people like John the Baptist.

John the Baptist lived under a tyrannical ruler the Bible calls Herod. When Herod stole his brother’s wife and made her his own, John had the audacity to speak against it.

If this were happening today, imagine what John’s friends would tell him.

“John, settle down. This Herod isn’t as evil as the other Herod.”

“John, just stick to the Bible. Preachers aren’t supposed to talk about anything else.”

If anyone said that to John, it’s obvious that he didn’t listen. He spoke to Herod. And he was blunt. “It is not lawful for you to have her” (Matthew 14:4).

For his efforts, John was thrown in prison by the tyrannical Herod. But John wasn’t like today’s loudmouth real estate mogul or ALL CAPS FACEBOOK WARRIOR. Sure, he stood up for the truth but he did so in a loving way. We know this because while John was in prison, Herod enjoyed visiting him to listen to what he had to say (Mark 6:20). Herod didn’t like being called out but he liked the one who called him out. John’s loving boldness earned him a platform before the evil ruler.

But all of that changed.

Herod was tricked into making the decision to remove John’s head from John’s body.

That’s the part where a lot of Christians misrepresent the story of John the Baptist. They tell us that the point of the passage is that you need to keep your opinions on political or controversial issues to yourself or you could lose your head. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real point of the passage is that it is better to die for God’s glory than to live for your own. As I write this, John the Baptist is doing just fine. Herod is not.

This is an extremely important lesson for the Church today. We have been silent for too long. Or, we have been so loud and obnoxious that we might as well be silent. And when the church is silent, the culture suffers.

Now, perhaps more than at any other moment in my lifetime, we need to quit letting presidential candidates speak for us. We need to speak. And we need to do so in a clear, loving, bold and humble way.

If your kid’s school allows boys to go into your daughter’s restroom or dressing room, confront them on it.

You’ll be surprised at what happens when one person refuses to drink the poison Kool-Aid. So rather than figuring out the lesser of two evils, let’s just get back to what Jesus told us to do. Let’s stand against it. Let’s resist it. Let’s pray for God to deliver us from it.

A while back I got an e-mail regarding the team my son plays on. Parents were being asked to pay a few bucks in order to buy new socks for every kid on the team to wear that month. The pink socks were to raise awareness for breast cancer and the money raised would go toward cancer research. But not just any cancer research. The particular organization receiving these funds supported Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider.

I responded to the e-mail by stating that my family would not be taking part in this fundraiser because we value human life and we are pro-life. I DIDN’T CALL ANYONE NAMES AND I DIDN’T WRITE MY E-MAIL IN ALL CAPS. And I didn’t look for the lesser of two evils. I just resisted the evil.

Not much time passed before the guy in charge of the entire league contacted me. He told me that he wasn’t aware of the abortion link and he asked me for other organizations that fought breast cancer without giving to Planned Parenthood. The league ended up raising hundreds of dollars for breast cancer research. And they raised none for abortion. All because one regular idiot like me decided to stand against evil rather than finding the diet version of evil.

When the church is silent, the culture suffers.

When the church is compromised, the culture worsens.

When the church is courageous, Christ is glorified.

Our courage may cost us our heads. But it’s better to die without them in devotion to Christ than to live with them in slavery to the ever changing whims of the culture.

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